Seahawks-Cowboys Betting Preview: Will Dallas Continue to Struggle as a Home Favorite?

Seahawks-Cowboys Betting Preview: Will Dallas Continue to Struggle as a Home Favorite? article feature image
Credit:

USA Today Sports. Pictured: Russell Wilson, Ezekiel Elliott

NFL Playoffs Betting Odds: Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys

  • Spread: Cowboys -2
  • Over/Under: 43
  • Time: Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: FOX

>> All odds as of Thursday evening. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets


Betting Market

The Seahawks have been trendy among public and sharp bettors. They’re getting the slight majority of spread bets, but have also been hit by a steam move that dropped them from +2.5 to +1.

Seattle is back at +2 at the time of writing (see live odds here).

The over was hit by early money as big bets pushed the line from the opener of 41 to 44 in just about 12 hours, but that might have been an overreaction.

Buyback on the under has dropped it back down to 43, with 60% of the tickets and 66% of the money on the over. Mark Gallant

Trends to Know

The under has gone 3-0 in Russell Wilson’s three wild-card appearances, failing to hit the total by 13.7 points per game with opponents scoring 14 or fewer points in each matchup. Evan Abrams

Since 2003, the over has gone 640-519-21 (55%) in non-division games with low totals (44 or fewer points) in which wind is blowing at <9 mph or the game is being played in a dome.

If the over/under has increased by one or more points (like this one has), it’s still been profitable to bet the over: 137-106-3 (56%). John Ewing

The Cowboys have gone 35-23-1 (60%) against the spread as an underdog under Jason Garrett compared to 32-45-3 (42%) ATS as a favorite, per our Bet Labs data.

As a home favorite, Dallas has gone 17-32-1 (35%) ATS under Garrett, including 0-2 ATS in the playoffs. Ewing

Officiating report: Walt Anderson will be the head official at AT&T Stadium. Here are home team results for playoff games he’s officiated over the past decade. Abrams

  • 2015: Patriots (-7) over Jets, 45-7
  • 2014: Colts (+2) over Chiefs, 45-44
  • 2010: Vikings (-2.5) over Cowboys, 34-3
  • 2009: Cardinals (+3.5) over Eagles, 32-25

Biggest Mismatches

When Cowboys have the ball: WR Amari Cooper vs. CB Shaquill Griffin

Although his boom-or-bust ways followed Cooper to Dallas, he has never been better. His Pro Football Focus receiving grade of 81.2 and 80.6 receiving yards per game since being traded from Oakland are both career-high marks.

Lining up mostly out wide on the right side of the formation, Cooper is likely to face Griffin for the majority of snaps.

Although Griffin had a promising rookie campaign in 2017, he’s since regressed. On 605 coverage snaps this season, Griffin has earned a subpar 51.9 PFF coverage grade and allowed a catch rate of 66.2%.

The Cowboys will likely look to run the ball early and often. Cooper has also been held to receiving performances of 32, 20 and 31 scoreless yards since his massive 217-yard, three-touchdown onslaught in Week 14 — but he’s averaged 8.4 targets with the Cowboys, who have given him fewer than seven targets in a game only twice.

If the Cowboys commit to giving Cooper the ball, he should be able to produce against Griffin.Matthew Freedman

Amari-Cooper
Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Amari Cooper

When Seahawks have the ball: WR Tyler Lockett vs. CBs Chidobe Awuzie & Jourdan Lewis

Lockett, who will likely face Awuzie and Lewis for the supermajority of his snaps, has had a quietly dominant campaign with 1,034 yards and 10 touchdowns from scrimmage on just 70 targets and 13 carries.

The receiver has bestowed a perfect 158.3 QB rating to Wilson when targeted (per PFF) — quite a feat to accomplish through 16 games — as well as an elite 16.4 adjusted yards per attempt.

In short, Wilson and Lockett have been as dynamic as any QB/WR connection in 2018.

With Pro-Bowler Byron Jones locked in at right corner, the Seahawks will likely look to attack Awuzie on the left side of the field and Lewis in the slot when they have to pass.

Neither cornerback is bad, but they have combined to allow a catch rate of 64.9%.

Not once this season has Lockett had more than seven targets in a game, so he’s unlikely to put up a monster performance. But he’s delivered with clutch catches when the Seahawks have needed him.

In a game that figures to be close, even just a few key receptions could be enough to give Seattle the victory. Freedman

Who Has the Advantage in Key Areas?

Quarterback: Seahawks

Even though Wilson threw the worst pick in Super Bowl history — as well as one of the worst regular-season picks in recent memory against the Vikings just a few weeks ago — he is the easy answer here.

Prescott did well in his lone playoff appearance with 302 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in a loss to the Packers in 2016, but his ring-less resume pales in comparison to Wilson’s 8-4 record and Super Bowl title in 12 postseason starts.

Wilson tossed a career-best 35 touchdowns on only 427 attempts this season, which looks even more absurd when considering it took Prescott 99 more attempts to throw 13 fewer touchdowns.

And although Prescott added six scores on the ground while Wilson had none, Wilson was the more efficient rusher with 376 yards on 67 attempts (5.6 yards per carry) compared to Prescott’s 305 yards on 75 carries (4.1). Chris Raybon

Coaching: Seahawks

Garrett’s career winning percentage (.566) isn’t far off Pete Carroll’s (.589). But while Garrett has had only three double-digit-win seasons in nine seasons and two winless postseason appearances over that span, Carroll’s teams have reached 10 wins in six of the past seven seasons with two Super Bowl appearances and one title.

Carroll has also become excellent at challenges, winning 8-of-11 since the start of the 2017 season. Garrett hasn’t posted a winning challenge record since 2014 (4-3), going 7-of-20 since.

And while Garrett’s impact on his team has often come into question — no better illustrated than his nickname, “the Clapper” — Carroll deserves a lot of credit for his.

He’s been one of the foremost implementers of sports science and mental health practices. He’s also maximized talent and demonstrated a willingness to play his best players regardless of draft pedigree (such as his decision to roll with Chris Carson as his No. 1 back over first-round pick Rashaad Penny).

And just when it appeared Carroll was losing the locker room — both literally, given last offseason’s mass exodus, as well as figuratively — he did well to overhaul his coaching staff and entrust Brian Schottenheimer and Ken Norton as his new coordinators despite questionable track records.

Jason-Garrett-Pete-Carroll
Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Pete Carroll, Jason Garrett

Replacing Tom Cable with Mike Solari was also a key hire who has turned around Seattle’s once-dismal offensive line.

Garrett’s staff has made strides as well, but it’s telling that his one key hire — defensive backs coach Kris Richard — formerly coached under Carroll. Raybon

Special Teams: Seahawks

Seattle kicker Sebastian Janikowski has been a bit more consistent from makable distances, as Dallas’ Brett Maher has missed six kicks from shorter than 50 yards compared to Janikowski’s three. And while Maher is 6-for-7 from at least 50 yards, I ultimately trust Janikowski’s experience more.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys are allowing opponents to return kicks 26.5 yards on average — the second-highest in the league. That could be dangerous against Lockett, who is averaging more than 25 yards per return.

The Seahawks’ kick coverage isn’t much better at 24.8 (sixth-highest), but the Cowboys have returned a league-low 13 kicks.

As for punting, both teams average only 5.7 yards per punt return (second-worst) and are nearly identical in punt return yardage allowed at pedestrian 8.4 (Seattle) and 8.5 (Dallas) marks. But the Seahawks will still have the advantage here thanks to Pro Bowl punter Michael Dickson.

I would be remiss not to mention that the Seahawks’ punting team almost cost them the game last week when they had two punts blocked by the Cardinals, including one returned for a touchdown.

The Seahawks have the overall edge on special teams, but not by much. These subpar units are much more likely to lose the game than win it.

Dickson’s leg could be the only real factor in terms of changing field position. Stuckey

Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Cowboys

Both teams have had to overcome the loss of key starters this season, but the Cowboys seem to be in slightly better shape at the moment.

Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith (neck) and right guard Zack Martin (knee) are each expected to return after resting in Week 17.

Dallas’ only real question mark on offense is the status of left guard Xavier Su’a-Filo (ankle), while the defense could once again be without defensive tackles Tyrone Crawford (neck) and David Irving (ankle).

Doug-Baldwin
Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Doug Baldwin

The Seahawks are dealing with apparently serious injuries to Shaquill Griffin (ankle), left guard J.R. Sweezy (foot) and safety Bradley McDougald (knee) while left tackle Duane Brown (knee) failed to practice on either Tuesday or Wednesday.

No. 1 receiver Doug Baldwin (knee) and backup running back Mike Davis (foot) also aren’t 100%, but they are both tentatively expected to suit up.

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

DFS Edges

For the Seahawks: Lockett

Wilson and Lockett have been the NFL’s most efficient duo since joining forces in 2015. The only problem is Lockett’s lack of volume: The Seahawks’ overqualified field-stretcher never earned even eight targets in a game this season.

Still, he should have favorable matchups.

Lockett is $5,300 on DraftKings with a 94% Bargain Rating. He also boasts an 18.4-point projected ceiling in our FantasyLabs Models. Hartitz

Tyler-Lockett
Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tyler Lockett

For the Cowboys: Prescott

Prescott has always had a fantasy-friendly rushing floor, joining Cam Newton as the only quarterbacks in league history with at least five touchdowns on the ground in each of their first three seasons.

The 2018 version of Prescott took off even more after Cooper arrived, thanks to his increased efficiency as a passer.

  • 2016: 67.8% completion rate, 7.99 yards per attempt, 229.2 yards per game, 5.8 TD-INT ratio
  • 2017: 62.9% cmp, 6.78 Y/A, 207.8 yards per game, 1.7 TD-INT ratio
  • 2018 before Cooper: 62.1% cmp, 6.88 Y/A, 202.4 yards per game, 2.0 TD-INT ratio
  • 2018 with Cooper: 71.3%, 7.71 Y/A, 274.2 yards per game, 3.5 TD-INT ratio

Now Cooper gets to help Prescott overcome a Seahawks defense that’s limited the Cowboys to fewer than 200 passing yards in each of their past two matchups.

Dak is $5,500 on DraftKings and has a solid +2.2 Projected Plus/Minus in our FantasyLabs Models. Hartitz

Bets to Watch

Seahawks +2: I bet this at +2.5, and I’d honestly bet it all the way to a pick’em.

Since Carroll and Garrett became the head coaches of their respective teams in 2010, Carroll is 4-2 straight-up and ATS in this head-to-head matchup.

The Seahawks are 3-0 ATS as underdogs against the Cowboys. Against Prescott, they’re 2-0 ATS. The Seahawks also easily covered as 1-point favorites in Week 3 with their 24-13 win.

The Seahawks have the better coach and better quarterback. They’ve already beaten the Cowboys this season. And they have a better record of postseason success.

I’m a Cowboys fan, so I freely admit that I can’t be objective here. But I see the Seahawks winning this game more often than not. Freedman

Under 43: These teams have played basically every season in the Garrett era. And in their past four meetings, the Cowboys have one touchdown on 33 drives. Even in what was essentially a “playoff elimination game” in 2017, Dallas scored 12 points and turned it over three times.

I think a heavy dose of Ezekiel Elliott, conservative play-calling and relying on defense is in the cards for Dallas.

And with a couple offensive linemen banged up, Seattle allowed a lot of pressure last week while trying to reconfigure. The Cowboys should exploit those same weaknesses to make things difficult on Wilson.

I don’t like either offense here and make this game closer to 40-41 despite ideal stadium conditions. Ken Barkley

Chris Carson rushing touchdown (-110): Carson has scored a rushing touchdown in four straight games and in six of his past seven, so clearly the Seahawks are focused on feeding on him, especially in the red zone.

Carson also enters the playoffs with 100-plus rushing yards in three straight games for the first time in his career, averaging a robust 5.3 yards per carry.

The one stat I love during that stretch: Carson has 11 rushes for 10 or more yards and only eight rushes for negative yards.

The Cowboys have allowed a rushing touchdown in three straight games (five in total), which is by far the most rushing touchdowns they’ve allowed over a three-game span this season.

I’ll roll with Carson finding the end zone, especially behind a Seahawks’ O-line that’s ranked in a tie for fifth in power success, which should help Carson get to pay dirt. Abrams


Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.